Let's look at the final “Sea of Tiberias” episode. Translating direct from the Greek in Chapter 21 at verse 2, we read: “There were together Simon Peter and Thomas (being called Twin) and Nathanael (from Cana of Galilee) and the sons of Zebedee and others of His disciples, two.”
This is the first and only time in John’s entire Gospel that the sons of Zebedee are even mentioned. Nor are they identified by name as John and James. However, in verse 21:7, we read: “Says therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved to Peter, ‘It is the Lord’.” It takes a considerable jump in logic (not to say sentence structure) to identify “that disciple” with one of the unnamed (and hitherto) unmentioned “sons of Zebedee.”
The disciple who was first to realize the man on the shore must be Jesus, is obviously one of the “other two.” Otherwise, why bring the “other two” into the narrative at all? What’s more, if John Zebedee had recognized the Lord, he would have instantly and instinctively pointed Him out not to Peter, but to his brother, James. And the verse would then read: “Says therefore the sons of Zebedee to Peter, ‘It is the Lord’.”
Now look at verse 21:20: “Turning, Peter sees [sic] the disciple whom Jesus loved, following… Seeing this one, therefore Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, what about this one?” While it is not nearly as uncomplimentary in Greek as it sounds in English, “this one” is hardly the term honest, straightforward Peter would use to describe a close, lifelong friend.
And if it is John Zebedee who is following, where’s James? John never goes anywhere without James, so why doesn’t Peter say “these ones”?
The reason, of course, is that “this one” is not John Zebedee. And as said before, this John’s pen is dipped in venom. (Notice how he goes out of his way in this episode to provide the unnecessary detail that “Peter was naked”).
John’s animosity is something that can’t be denied. To me it offers further proof (if proof were needed) that John was a real person who describes real events much as you would expect from a real human being (not some fictitious wood and plaster “saint”) with real emotions. Fundamentalists and their comrades don’t want people to know facts like these. They don’t even want to know them themselves.
I once tried to explain to my Pastor the various functions that editors perform. Now that seems a harmless exercise, even when applied to the Bible. But I can see him now with his hands over his ears, crying, “Stop! Stop! You’ll destroy my faith!”
To get back to John-versus-Peter, it doesn’t destroy my faith to discover that John, the beloved disciple, a man of great culture and sensitivity, was yet human enough not to like Peter and not afraid to let everyone know it. Undoubtedly he was jealous of the position Peter occupied in Jesus’ circle. He was a human being, he had faults like all of us, yet Jesus loved him! It wasn’t some super-being of sweetness and light, distilled in a fountain of holier-than-thou that Jesus loved, but a real person of flesh and blood, just like you and me!